based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

On this day 58 years ago a novel came out that changed American literature forever; even winning a Pulitzer Prize for the author Harper Lee. Two years later the film adaption of To Kill a Mockingbird came out on Christmas Day, and much like the novel was a huge success. This is actually my mother’s favorite book and for a very long time did her best to convince me to watch the film. I eventually did, and I absolutely loved it. If you haven’t read the book or seen the film here is the spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Over the course of three years during the 1930’s Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout (Mary Badham, nominated for an Oscar for her part) and her brother Jeremy Atticus Finch aka “Jem” (Phillip Alford) discover their (fictional) town of Maycomb, AL is not as good as it appears to be. They spend their days playing outside with their friend Dill (John Megna) and spying on their neighbor Arthur Radley aka “Boo” (Robert Duvall) who has not stepped out of his house in years; the town has multiple horrible stories on why that is. Scout and Jem live with their widowed father (whom they call by his first name by his request) Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck who won an Oscar for his part), the town lawyer who believes people should be treated fairly regardless of their background. Atticus defends many people in town and if they have little money takes in produce instead. Atticus is assigned a case where he defends Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) a black man accused of raping and beating Mayella Ewell (Collin Wilcox) a white woman. Atticus does what he can to protect Tom; including sleeping outside his cell to stop a mob from lynching him which Scout inadvertently stops when she recognizes one of the men Atticus takes produce from. However Scout and Jem face problems in school because of their father’s actions. When the trial (which Scout and Jem watch from the rafters) begins Atticus sets out to prove Tom couldn’t have committed the rape; among the evidence is Tom’s left arm is crippled, but Mayella claimed he used his left hand to chock her out. Atticus points out that Mayella’s father Bob (James Anderson) is left handed and she never went to a doctor to confirm her story of rape. Unfortunately, despite Atticus’s best efforts (including an incredible closing argument Peck shot in one take) the verdict seemed to be in before the trail began. This is about as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

To call this an absolute classic would be an understatement. Everything from the acting, writing (which the movie follows close if not exactly like the book), cinematography and even shooting the film in black and white was nothing less than phenomenal. Peck was, and is still considered to be, one of the finest actors to ever grace the big screen and this is arguably his best known role. Atticus is often listed as one of the best fictional characters ever created, and it would be very hard to argue otherwise. Mary Badham’s performance as Scout is remarkable as she grows up; at first not understanding what is happening (often escalating to fighting or talking to Atticus), but eventually comes to terms with it. Phillip Alford is fantastic as big brother Jem as he explains what is happening to Scout as well as protecting her. Brock Peters is great as Tom Robinson and the rest of the cast is wonderful; interesting fact this was Robert Duvall’s first credited film role. The film won three Oscars: Best Actor for Gregory Peck, Best Art Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay, while it was nominated for Best Director, Cinematography, Actress in a Supporting Role, Score and Picture. It has also been on multiple American Film Institute 100 lists: Atticus Finch as the #1 hero, #17 of film scores, #2 on 100 Cheers, top 10 Courtroom Drama films at #1 #34 on the 100 movies list and finally moving up to #25 on the 10th Anniversary 100 Movies list.

I would call To Kill a Mockingbird a must watch especially if you are reading the book for school; although do not use it for a book report your teacher will know. Even if you are not, or have not, read the book the film is still an amazing work and a big recommendation from me.

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based on a book, classic, film, musical, must see

Classic Movie Review: The Wizard of Oz

Today I am writing my 200th blog. For those that have been around since the beginning I thank you. For those who are just starting, I thank you as well.

For my 200th blog I wanted to make it special; a movie or show I believe everyone has or should see (if you have not, it must be put on the top spot on the must watch list immediately.) While glossing over the list of movies I’ve watch one stuck out and I knew I struck gold. It was one of the first non-animated movies I remember watching as a kid, the movie that made me fall in love with musicals and arguably the most watched movie of all time (not just in my house): The Wizard of Oz. Based on the beloved 1900 children’s book by L. Frank Baum, this 1939 classic musical is considered to be one of the greatest musicals and films of all time; and I’d love to find someone who would say otherwise. If for some reason you have not seen The Wizard of Oz here is the biggest spoiler alert I could possible give. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Beginning in sepia tone Dorothy Gale (Jud Garland) and her dog Toto (Terry) lives with her Aunt Em (Clara Blandick) and Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin) on their farm in Kansas. Toto gets in trouble when he bites the mean neighbor Miss Almira Gultch (Margaret Hamilton). Dorothy tries to explain what happened to her aunt and uncle, but they and the farm hands Huck (Ray Bolger), Hickory (Jack Haley) and Zeke (Bert Lahr) are too busy working to listen to her. Gultch arrives with the sheriff’s permission to take Toto away and put him down, much to Dorothy’s sadness, but the dog escapes. Dorothy and Toto run away, but after meeting and sort of tricked by the strange but kind hearted Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan who pulls off five roles in the movie) into turning around. A tornado has formed as Dorothy races home, but is too late to get in the storm cellar. She tries to seek shelter in her room, but gets knocked out.

Waking up she sees very odd things outside her window (her home was picked up by the tornado) before landing in the colorful Land of Oz; Dorothy famously saying “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy meets the beautiful Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke) and the munchkins of Munckinland in the Land of Oz. They thank her for killing the Wicked Witch of the East; much to Dorothy’s horror her home crushed the witch to death leaving only her feet visible. However trouble soon arrives when the Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton) arrives; Glinda says she’s worse than her sister. The Wicked Witch wants her sister’s magic ruby slippers, but Glinda has already given them to Dorothy; the witch promising “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too.” Dorothy wants to go home, but Glinda’s magic is not powerful enough to make it possible. Glinda says to Dorothy only The Wizard of Oz (Morgan) can help her; she must take the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. Dorothy takes the path and soon meets three others who need help. The Scarecrow (Bolger) who desires a brain, the Tin Woodsman (Haley) who wants a heart and the Cowardly Lion (Lahr) who needs courage; Dorothy invites them all to accompany her to Oz. The four get stopped multiple times by the Wicked Witch, including a poppy field to make them sleep, but they make it to the Emerald City and eventually see the Wizard. He will only grant their requests if they bring him the Wicked Witch’s broomstick, but they will have to kill her to make that possible. About as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the movie for those that haven’t read the book or watched it.

The Wizard of Oz is constantly listed as a movie many should watch before the age of 14, and if you have not that is absolutely fine. I remember watching the movie when I was a kid and just being completely enamored with it. The music, the characters, the story; even how it started off tan before going color. I still watch the movie today, maybe not with as much enthusiasm as when I was five but I still enjoy it.

The characters are just incredible to watch. Judy Garland shines as Dorothy Gale, considered to be the most iconic role in her career; she even won an honorary juvenile Oscar for this role along with her role in Babes in America. Bolger is so fun to watch as Scarecrow (try and find his deleted dance sequence for the “If I Only Had a Brain” number; it is great to watch.) Haley, while amazing as the Tin-man, was not the first actor cast for the part; actor Buddy Ebsen was supposed to be the Tin-man but fell ill after putting on the make-up (it was coated in aluminum powder and it got into his lungs, but thankfully lived.) Lahr is hilarious as the Lion; he might be my favorite of the Oz trio. Morgan is absolutely amazing in his five roles in the movie (Marvel, the doorman, the cabbie, the guard and the Wizard) a feet not often used in films back then or even now. Burke is lovely as Glinda. Of course I cannot forget the performance of Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch; one of the most iconic villains on-screen. I know she struggled after the film with children being frightened of her well after the movie; there is a very famous episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood where he showed that she was a person underneath the robe and green make-up. The writing, cinematography and background music are some of the best I’ve seen in film, I would appreciate this more as I got into movies.

I cannot forget the wonderful soundtrack that goes along with the movie. Scarecrow, Tin-man and the Lion each have their own songs explaining what they would do if they had their respective gifts; the Lion has an additional number saying what he’d do “If I Were the King of the Forrest”. The munchkins have a number of songs, the two most famous being “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “Follow The Yellow Brick Road/You’re Off to See the Wizard”; Dorothy and her friends reprise the latter half song three more times with “We’re” instead of “You’re” The residents of Emerald City welcome Dorothy and her friend with a number called “The Merry Old Land of Oz” However the most famous song of all is “Over the Rainbow”. Dorothy sings this while in Kansas saying how she wished there was a place where she couldn’t get into trouble; honestly I still get goosebumps when I listen to it.

The Wizard of Oz would win two Oscars, including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” as well as Best Score; the film was also nominated for Best Special Effects, art direction, cinematography in color and Best Picture. It has also been listed on multiple American Film Institute 100 best lists. Three quotes on 100 Quotes: # 4 “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”, #99 “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too” and # 23 “There’s no place like home” Two songs on the 100 songs: # 1″Over the Rainbow” and #82 “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead”, #43 on 100 Thrills, #4 villain on 100 Heroes and Villains, top 10 Fantasy film at #1, #26 on 100 Cheers, #3 on Movie Musicals, and #6 on the 100 Movie, it would slip to #10 on the 10th Anniversary list. The film inspired multiple adaptions of the book, including the Broadway production, film and TV special “The Wiz.” Allegedly five pairs of Dorothy’s ruby slippers were made; one can be seen at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C while another pair was stolen years ago and has not been seen since.

If you have not experience The Wizard of Oz, what are you waiting for? Grab your ruby slippers and get ready to travel from Kansas (or wherever you live) to the Land of Oz, but always remember “There’s no place like home.”

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based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Forrest Gump

On this day in 1994 the world was introduced to one of the most beloved characters in film. Based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom, Forrest Gump has become an absolute phenomenon; no matter how young or old you are this will always be a favorite of any generation. If for some reason you haven’t watched Forrest Gump, here is the spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks who won an Oscar for the part with Michael Connor Humphreys as the younger version) is waiting for a bus in 1981 and tells sttangers how he got to this point. He talks about his first day of school in 1951, his mother (Sally Field) was very adamant about his education despite others pointing out his leg braces and very low intelligence; Mrs. Gump tells Forrest that he is the same as everybody else and to not let anyone say otherwise. The other students make fun of Forrest, except for one; Jenny Curran (Robin Wright and Hanna R. Hall as a child). Forrest immediately loves Jenny and throughout hid life never stops. His mother opens their home as a boarding house and Forrest inadvertently inspires a truck driver with his hip thrusting attempts at dancing (yep, Elvis Presley). Forrest eventually breaks his leg brace and becomes very fast, which helps when he outruns bullies; with Jenny telling him “Run Forrest, run.” He becomes a big football star at the University of Alabama because of his running; even meeting President John F. Kennedy. Forrest would then enlist in the army and befriends a man named Bubba (Mykelti Williamson). They plan to open up a shrimping company when they get discharged. Forrest and Bubba get shipped off to Vietnam where they meet Lieutenant Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise nominated for an Oscar for this part). During an ambush Forrest gets shot in the butt but saves the members of his platoon; Dan loses his legs and is depressed for a majority of the film (Forrest does later pull him out of his funk) while Bubba is killed. Forrest kerps his promise to Bubba; he opens a shrimping company along with Dan. Forrest reunites with Jenny many times in the movie, but because of her issues has trouble committing to Forrest despite loving him as much as he loves her. Probably as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the film.

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? It is a true cinematic masterpiece. Tom Hanks is one of the best actors to ever grace a camera and, this probably goes without saying, Forrest Gump is one of his most iconic roles. Forrest is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but his heart more than makes up for it. Robin Wright shines as Jenny, the woman with a bad past but always had Forrest’s heart. Admittedly Forrest and Jenny’s love story feels a little one-sided, but it’s still lovely to watch. Sally Field is fabulous as Mrs. Gump; she’s caring, tough and, if I may be so bold, probably one of the best mothers on film or television. Gary Sinise is so good as Lt. Dan (he was nominated for an Oscar for the part). Iloved Williamson as Bubba; I can listen to him talk about shrimp all day.

The casting isn’t the only part I loved about Forrest Gump. I’m absolutely positive everyone enjoyed the pop culture references throughout the movie (John Lennon, Watergate, Apple and so much more.) The writing, cinematography and even the visual effects placing Forrest with the famous people is great. Forrest Gump won six Oscars including Best Actor for Hanks, Director, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Writing for an Adapted Screenplay and the biggest of them all Best Picture; it was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Sinise, art direction, cinematography, make-up and hair, score, sound and sound editing. The movie was also included on multiple American Film Institute top lists: Top 100 Quotes at #40 “Mama always said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”, 100 Cheers at #37, Top 100 movies at #71 and finally the 10th Anniversary edition at #76. To call this a must watch would be a big understatement. Grab your own box of chocolates, sit down and watch this classic Tom Hanks film.

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based on a book, based on true story, classic, film, Marvel Films, musical, must see

What Movies are Perfect to watch of the 4th of July?

First and foremost Happy Independence Day to everyone here in the United States. I hope you have a great day no matter what you are doing; hanging by the pool while someone makes burgers and hot-dogs or spending the day inside (hopefully with air conditioning) and watching some patriotic movies. Whether it is something about our founding fathers or a movie that makes you feel patriotic. Today I want to do something a little different today other than a review. I’m gonna give you some movies I feel are perfect to watch whether it’d be today or just to make you proud of waving the American Flag. Here are some of my picks in no particular order. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

  1. Yankee Doodle Dandy. This 1942 biographical musical follows the true story of George M. Cohan (James Cagney) as he takes Broadway by storm; although his ego gets in the way a lot. Featuring songs such as “Over There” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy”. This film means so much to me because it was one of my grandmother’s favorites. Knowing George M. Cohan was so proud of our flag, and he was born on the fourth of July, makes me happy to be a musical fan as well as an American.
  2. Air Force One. I did a review for this 1997 film, but let me give you a quick recap. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) has to rely on his former military training when terrorists, led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman), hijack Air Force One and threaten to kill everyone on board unless their dictator is released. One of my favorite Harrison Ford films outside the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises; this film showed just what would anyone do to protect their family; also who doesn’t cheer a little when Marshall says “Get off my plane.”
  3. 1776. Yes another musical but at least it takes place leading up to why we celebrate the fourth of July. This 1972 film, based on the Broadway musical sees the Continental Congress as they make tough decisions; including whether or not independence from England is worth it. Starring William Daniels (yes, Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World) as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson and Virginia Vestoff as Abigail Adams this musical gets your feet taping and flag waving.
  4. Jaws. Maybe not a movie about war or the American flag, but this 1975 film helped start the phenomenon known as summer blockbusters at the movies. Jaws is about a town being threatened by a great white shark and the three men wanting to put the shark down for good. The film does take place over the Fourth of July weekend, so I guess that counts.
  5. A League of their Own. Baseball has often been called the American past-time, and this 1992 film just might be one of the best sports films of all time. Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lori Petty the film takes a look back at the short lived All American Girls Professional Baseball League which took place during World War II. We watch as the girls have to deal with sexism, getting the public’s attention and proving they can be just as good as the men. A true classic film if I may say so.
  6.  Hidden Figures. I don’t want to call this film a surprise hit, but I’ll admit that I did not expect to see this 2016 movie to appear at so many award shows. That being said it is still a fantastic watch. When it looks like the Russians might beat the U.S. to space three brilliant African American women working for NASA step up to make it possible. Staring Taraji P. Henson as mathematician Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as supervisor, and later computer expert Dorothy Vaughen and Janelle Monáe as engineer Mary Jackson. The film also features Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Mahershala Ali as people who either stood in the way or made a path for them to succeed. A movie about change as well as patriotism.
  7. The Rocky franchise. I know many will say Rocky IV is the most associated with patriotism, and that may be true, but I think not enough credit is given to the other films (at least the first three in addition to the fourth.) The franchise follows boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as he does from underdog to champion while finding and keeping the love of Adrian (Talia Shire). Everyone loves the underdog story, but I’ll admit the 1985 fourth film in the franchise is probably the more patriotic of the franchise; Rocky fights a Russian boxer named Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on Russian turf after Drago kills Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the ring. On a side note I cannot wait to see Creed II this fall.
  8. Independence Day. Come on, how was I not going to put this 1996 film on here? When aliens arrive to take over the world, military forces must team up to combat the menace. Starring Will Smith in one of his breakthrough movie roles, Bill Pullman as the president of the United States, Jeff Goldblum and Vivica A. Fox this film showed when a force wants to fight, we are gonna fight back.
  9. Captain America: The First Avenger. I had to put one superhero movie on here and this 2011 film might be the most American of them all. The origin of one of the most popular comic book heroes is brought to life as Steve Trevor (Chris Evans) is transformed into Captain America. While starting of as joke, Steve soon proves he has the strength and heart of an American hero as his fights off a secret organization known as Hydra. Admittedly this is the weakest origin film of the Marvel movies, but it was one heck of a start to the Captain America part of the franchise.
  10. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Another underdog story, but this time it involves politics. Released in 1939, Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is taken under the wing of Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) a crooked senator. The simple-minded Smith is at first destroyed by the newspapers and politicians, but after a little help Smith rallies for the people and earns their respect, as well as the respect of the Senate. James Stewart does a phenomenal job and his speech reaffirming what America is truly about is one of the best parts of the movie.

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day. Is there a film missing from my list that is one yours? Please leave a comment of what film and why it is great for the Fourth of July.

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based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Jurassic Park

With the fifth film opening this Friday I thought it would be a great idea to finally review one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Based on the 1990 novel of the same time, this 1993 Steven Spielberg movie opened the door to a brand new world 65 million years in the making. For some reason if you haven’t seen the franchise here is a massive spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), his paleobotanist girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are invited by industrialist John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and a lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) to verify that Hammond’s new park is safe. When they get to the island called Isla Nublar Grant, Ellie and Malcolm are stunned (to say the least) that Hammond and his team, including Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) and Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) have recreated dinosaurs using DNA from mosquito and frogs as well as keeping the dinosaurs all girls in order to prevent breading; Dr. Malcolm quickly disbelieves this famously stating “Life finds a way” as well as dismissing the thought of controlling the dinosaurs. Grant, Ellie, Malcolm, Gennaro and Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) go on a tour of the park, called Jurassic Park, and that is when things go wrong. A tropical storm hits the island at the same time Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), who has been bribed by a competitor to steal embryos, cuts off the security system in order to get to where they are stashed. However because of his stupidity the power goes off as well and trucks with Grant, Malcolm, Gennaro and the kids get stuck right by the Tyrannosaurs Rex area (for those who haven’t seen the film this ends about as well as you think.) Everyone soon has to find a way to survive in Jurassic Park with not only the T-Rex but velociraptors after them until help can arrive. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.

I actually avoided this film when I was younger because dinosaurs freaked me out (also seeing people getting eaten on screen makes me nauseous.) However when Jurassic World was coming out my curiosity was getting the better of me and I finally sat down to watch all three films. My reviews for those will come later, as for this this is clearly the best of the Jurassic films so far (not just my opinion but a fact.) This is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time; not just in dinosaur but in terms of Spielberg films as well. Everyone in the movie did a fantastic job acting wise, the script was fantastic and the special effects, given how computers were back in the 90’s, were amazing. The dinosaurs in here are either robotics and/or CGI are so well done you would think they were actual dinosaurs. Of course I cannot forget about the incredible music on the background, one of the most recognizable themes in film and why Jurassic Park won Oscars for its sound mixing, editing and visual effects. While I think the three sequels, as well as the upcoming fourth this Friday, are/may not as good as this one it was still a great way to start off one of the best film franchises of all time. If you haven’t watched the original Jurassic Park I highly recommend it, I’d even call it a must see. In the words of John Hammond: “Welcome to Jurassic Park.”

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classic, tv shows

TV Show Review: Bewitched

I promised a long time ago to do this and I am a woman of my word.

Usually when you go into a marriage you know everything about your loved one, in the case of Bewitched there may have been a thing or two left out when the couple exchanged vows. From 1964 until 1972 this supernatural comedy, airing on ABC, took a marriage and added in a little bit of magic (not a figure of speech). Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and falls in love with Darrin Stephens (Dick York seasons 1-5 and then Dick Sargent seasons 6-8 after York’s back injury got worse). The two would marry in the pilot episode, and Samantha would let Darrin in on a little secret: she is a witch. At first perplexed, Darrin accepts Samantha for who she is, with Samantha promising to not use her powers, which usually require a nose twitch. Unfortunately Sam can’t keep her promise. This is because of her family, who disapproves of her mixed marriage and does what they can to make their lives as chaotic as possible. Most notably Samantha’s mother Endora (Agnes Morehead); she plays tricks on Darrin (or Dum-Dum, What’s his name and other wrong names she frequently calls him) that often make him look crazy or unfaithful. Other members of Sam’s family that show up are her clumsy Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), wacky Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde), her look alike mischievous cousin Serena (Montgomery) and her thespian father Maurice (Maurice Evans). Sam and Darrin would have two children in the series: Tabitha (Erin Murphy) and Adam (David Lawrence) both of whom have powers over the course of the series. Other characters include Larry Tate (David White) Darrin’s longtime friend and boss, Larry’s wife Louise (Irene Vernon and then Kasey Rogers), Gladys Kravitz (Alice Pearce and then Sandra Gould after Pearce’s death) the Stephens neighbor who believe Samantha is hiding something which her husband Abner (George Tobias) never believes, Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox) a witch doctor always annoyed when he gets called for an emergency and Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley), the Stephens’ clumsy witch maid.

Considered to be one of the best television shows, not just of the 60’s to 70’s but of all time, Bewitched is everything I expected it to be and more. Montgomery is so perfect as the beautiful witch Samantha and, if I am being honest, the only sensible one in the room no matter the episode. I loved York as Darrin and while there was nothing wrong with Sargent, whom I also enjoyed, I always felt there was something missing with the relationship between Sam and Darrin when Sargent took over. Morehead is so good as the not good but not bad Endora. However my favorite character, outside of Sam, has to be Paul Lynde as the hilarious Uncle Arthur. Bewitched regularly airs on TV, try one of the classic channels you may have, and I would recommend it; maybe not top of the must watch list but somewhere in the middle. Get ready to be bewitched (OK a little sorry at that remark) by the magic of Sam, Darrin, Endora and so many more colorful characters; ironic since the first two seasons are in black and white but still wonderful.

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based on true story, classic, film, must see

TV Movie Review: Brian’s Song

If you were to ask any critic what is the greatest television movie of all time, there is a good chance they will say Brian’s Song. Premiering on ABC in their Movie of the Week specials in 1971, this true story film received widespread acclaim by critics and viewers alike, calling it not only a fantastic TV film, but one of the best sports movies of all time. I finally watched it about a year ago, and despite knowing what was going to happen I still shed tears. Spoilers ahead as always (and only because it is unavoidable.) I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

The new Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) arrives to team practice and quickly gets into a friendly rivalry with a fellow player and running back Brian Piccolo (James Caan). The two become roommates, back then was unheard of, and eventually become friends. Sayers helps Piccolo with his game when he struggles and when Sayers goes down with an injury Piccolo helps him out with a weight machine. The two soon become more like brothers than friends as they play football and have families. However when Piccolo becomes a fullback and his performance on the field begins to falter, it is obvious that something is wrong. It is soon revealed by Coach George Halas (Jack Warden) that Brian has terminal cancer, specifically embryonal cell carcinoma. Sayers does what he can to make Brian feel better, but sadly Brian passes away at the age of 26. Sayers encourages their teammates and families to remember Brian not for how he died, but for how he lived.

Ok I know I gave away the ending, but don’t say I did not warn you in the beginning. Watching the friendship between Gale and Brian is still beautiful to watch. The two started off as rivals, it wasn’t forced that the two would become brothers by outside parties and even in the end Gale kept Brian alive in his heart. Billy Dee Williams and James Caan were perfect together, as were the rest of the cast, writing, cinematography and direction of the film. I can honestly say watching the scene were Gale first hears about Brian’s diagnosis as well as the speech is absolutely heartbreaking, I had seen that scene before I watched the movie and the look on Gale’s face gets me every time. The final moments of the film where we watch what may have been Gale’s final moments with Brian, as well as the narrator telling the audience what happened after Brian’s death, are some of the finest moments in an already amazing film. Brian’s Song won four out of the eight Emmys it was nominated for, including best supporting actor for Warden, single program, cinematography and the writing while Caan and Williams were nominated for their parts, as well as a nomination for best miniseries or television film at the Golden Globes. It was remade in 2001 with Sean Maher and Mekhi Phiffer as Brian and Sayers, but that is for another day (a very long wait on Netflix DVD so I’m hoping I can catch this stream wise soon). If you can find the original Brian’s song, whether it is DVD, streaming or on TV, I HIGHLY recommend watching it. Be prepared to have your heart broken, tears flowing and a box or two of tissues gone by the end of the film.

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